AS double-think runs wild in the White House, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) of Saudi Arabia must be enjoying a quiet chuckle. Diplomatic realpolitik has been accorded precedence over the severe action that was expected of President Joe Biden in the context of the US intelligence report that the Crown Prince was complicit in the ghastly killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
The Washington Post columnist was allegedly drugged and his body dismembered. Every tenet of human rights was thus violated.
By advancing what they call a “free pass” to MBS, America’s President has proffered a feeble excuse to justify his defence of the de facto leader of the desert kingdom. Biden, who had referred to Saudi Arabia as a “pariah kingdom with no redeeming social value” in course of his election campaign, has now softened his stance to a dramatic degree.
It thus comes about that in the somewhat surprising reckoning of the US President, the price of directly penalising Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is “too high”.
He may be right when viewed through the prism of certitudes of foreign policy.
The US President was reportedly convinced by his newly formed national security team that there was no way to formally bar the Saudi crown prince from entering the United States or to take a call on the criminal charges against him.
Altogether, it was feared by the current US administration that a drastic reprisal would have breached the equation with one of America’s key Arab allies, not to discount the flutter within the Arab region generally.
There is said to have been a consensus in the White House that the price of that breach was quite “simply too high” in terms of Saudi cooperation in the fight against terrorism and in confronting Iran.
Biden had been urged by a section of the establishment to at least impose the same travel restrictions against the Crown Prince as the Trump administration had imposed on others involved in the plot.The White House appears to have drawn a fine distinction between MBS and the Saudi military. While the Crown Prince is unlikely to be invited to the United States in the immediate perspective, the establishment has denied that the Saudi ruler is being given a “pass”.
It is pretty obvious though, that the coveted International Visitor Program (IVP) will not be denied to the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince. Going by the terms of protocol, he may yet be treated as a state guest in America. — The Statesman/ANN